Interview: Humberto Ramirez

Agricola de Cologne (AdC) interviews Humberto Ramirez (HR)—>
Humberto Ramirez is an artist originally from Chile.

  • artist biography
  • —>
    10 questions—>

    AdC:
    You belong to an art scene using new technologies, you are an active representative of a genre dealing with Internet based art, called “netart”.
    When those artists started who are active since a longer time, the education in New Media was not yet such advanced like nowadays, often they came form different disciplines and had an interdisciplinary approach, those young artists who start now have partially this more advanced education, but rather not much experience in other disciplines.

    1.
    AdC:
    Tell me something about your educational background and what is influencing your work?
    HR
    My background is in science (Molecular Biology) painting and writing. The social realm is what is most influential in my work.

    2.
    AdC:
    The term “netart” is widely used for anything posted on the net, there are dozens of definitions which mostly are even contradictory.
    How do you define “netart” or if you like the description “Internet based art” better,
    do you think your work belongs to this specific genre,
    do you think “netart” is art, at all, if yes, what are the criteria?
    Are there any aesthetic criteria for an Internet based artwork?
    HR:
    Internet based art is a much more inclusive category, in contrast. netart seeks to find a realm of exclusivity regarding production that reminds me a bit of modernist aesthetics, I like the notion of impurity and, the hybrid , the fluid and porous.

    3.
    AdC:
    What kind of meaning have the new technologies and the Internet to you,
    are they just tools for expressing your artistic intentions, or have they rather an ideological character, as it can be found with many “netartists”, or what else do they mean to you?
    HR:
    There is no inherent meaning to any medium; it is the individual or the collective that uses these materials or technologies to signify.

    4.
    AdC:
    Many “Internet based artists” work on “engaged” themes and subjects, for instance, in social, political, cultural etc concern.
    Which contents are you particularly interested in, what are the subjects you are working on and what is your artistic message(s), if you have any, and what are your personal artistic visions for future artworking (if you have any).
    HR:
    At this moment there is nothing more pressing than to oppose and critique the military expansionism of the west.

    5.
    AdC:
    “Art on the net” has the advantage and the disadvantage to be located on the virtual space in Internet which defines also its right to exist.
    Do you think, that “art based on the Internet”, can be called still like that, even if it is just used offline?
    HR:
    Sure, I am not interested in reduction but rather inclusions.

    6.
    AdC:
    Dealing with this new, and interactive type of art demands an active viewer or user.
    and needs the audience much more and in different ways than any other art discipline before. How do you stimulate the user to dive into this new world of art?
    What do you think, represents an appropriate environment to present net based art to an audience, is it the context of the lonesome user sitting in front of his personal computer, is it any public context, or is it rather the context of art in general or media art in particular, or anything else.?
    If you would be in the position to create an environment for presenting this type of art in physical space, how would you do it?
    HR:
    Well, this is more the material of a full-fledged essay…I don’t know that presenting this type of work/art in physical space is the right or most effective strategy but I am sure that it can be done.

    7.
    AdC:
    As Internet based art, as well as other art forms using new technologies are (globally seen) still not widely accepted, yet, as serious art forms, what do you think could be an appropriate solution to change this situation?
    HR:
    More activity, participation and dissemination, we are on the brink of a major paradigm change.

    8.
    AdC:
    The Internet is called a kind of “democratic” environment, but the conventional art practice is anything else than that, but selective by using filters of different kind.
    The audience is mostly only able to make up its mind on second hand. Art on the net might potentially be different. Do you think the current practice of dealing with Internet based art
    is such different or rather the described conventional way through (also curatorial) filtering?
    Do you think, that speaking in the terms of Joseph Beuys, anybody who publishes anything on the net would be also an artist?
    HR:
    Problematic questions the first one best answered by CAE in Electronic Disturbance and Electronic Civil Disobedience. The second one is way to complex to answer as a yes or no, the variables are still in the process of being defined, let alone the question of what constitutes art or the artist.

    9.
    AdC:
    Do you think, the curators dealing with net based art should have any technological knowledge in order to understand such an art work from its roots?
    HR:
    Generally yes, but not necessarily. Far more important is an awareness of contemporary culture and the desire for activism and agency regarding social issued. Net based art is by definition a social endeavour.

    10.
    AdC:
    It is planned, to re-launch
    JavaMuseum – Forum for Internet Technology in Contemporary Art
    www.javamuseum.org in 2007 in a new context, very likely even in physical space.
    What would be your personal wishes and expectations connected to this re-launch ?
    HR:
    That it is meaningful and relevant as a tool of social transformation.

    AdC:
    Thanks for taking your time.